The Sea Beast (2022) Film Review

This new animated feature from Netflix brings together an unlikely pair in a swashbuckling adventure that's fun for all ages.

The Sea Beast (2022) Film Review
The Sea Beast (2022)

by Nuha Hassan

Chris Williams’ The Sea Beast is the latest animated feature from Netflix, that follows a monster hunter and a young, unexpected ally embarking on a journey. This film is a seafaring adventure with nautical battles, gigantic sea monsters, and a fun dynamic between a group of monster hunters that takes place in a magical land. Williams is known for directing Disney’s Big Hero 6, Bolt, and co-directing Moana along with John Musker and Ron Clements, and many other iconic animated movies. In The Sea Beast, the monster hunters are considered heroes of the town and due to their loyalty towards the crown, they have been able to expand the borders by making the world monster-free. The movie has mature themes, such as anti-imperialism, animal conservation, and how history can be twisted by people in power.

Set in the fantastical world, it follows the famous monster hunter Jacob Holland (voiced by Karl Urban), the soon-to-be captain of The Inevitable. Captain Crow (voiced by Jared Harris), who is obsessed with vengeance and capturing The Red Bluster, but on a mission to hunt the monster, the Royal King and Queen informs them that the practice might be taken over by the Navy. To save the practice and Captain Crow’s ship, Jacob incites a competition between the Navy and his soon-to-be crew to battle it out, where the first ship to capture The Red Bluster will be allowed to continue the practice. On their way to find the sea monster, orphan Maisie Brumble (Zaris-Angel Hator) sneaks aboard the ship to find her place among the sea and crew, since she comes from a family of monster hunters.

still from animated film: the green scaly sea beast destroys a large ship
The Sea Beast (2022)

The Sea Beast is a gorgeous animated film with swashbuckling adventures and naval battles against sea monsters. The scale of the animation is humungous, and the most amazing scenes are the intensive action sequences where the crew are hopping around on ropes and sword fights. With the realistic backgrounds and the beautiful scenes set in the ocean, everything about the animated feature feels immersive and absorbs the spectacle to the end of their journey.

The movie introduces compelling themes and handles them in a mature way while still being family-friendly. The nature of these themes such as self-discovery and understanding heritage are introduced to young and old viewers, and they are written within the narratives using incredible character work. Maisie, who dreams of returning to the sea and hunting monsters, learns that there is more to what she has been taught about these sea creatures. On the other hand, through Jacob’s years of monster hunting, he has only learnt to hunt them. In the recent animated features, young kids have taught adults lessons, instead of the other way around. It’s that defiance against adults and imperialism that explores the complicated morals of Jacob, Captain Crow and his crew.

One of the issues of The Sea Beast is that it doesn’t have its own identity. There are influences of Disney characters and some overtones from Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon, which shows a pre-industrial world of dragons. It is quite understandable that it will take Netflix and Williams to find his own footing outside of the similarities from Disney. Another issue is that the movie struggles with pacing. After Maisie is introduced to the viewers, she disappears for some time and appears right before the end of the first act. Captain Crow’s revenge-obsessed storyline is focused on and it loses focus on the importance of Jacob and Maisie’s friendship. Williams’ manages to bring an exciting and adventurous sea faring animation, and it is clear that the animation team has the passion to tell these incredible stories. Even though The Sea Beast might have some inconsistencies, they are overtaken by the character design and narrative, which proves to be a visual splendour. It’s an incredible film that doesn’t try to condense the narrative for young kids and appeals to them, and it’s one of the best high-seas adventure animated movies of the year.